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Daily Business Report-Jan. 14, 2014

Daily Business Report-Jan. 14, 2014

San Diego County Home Sales Fall;

Median Home Prices Show Increase

Home sales in San Diego County fell by 17.5 percent in December from a year ago, while the median home price in the region increased by 14.8 percent, to $420,000, DataQuick, a San Diego-based real estate information service, reported today.

Home sales in December 2013 totaled 3,099 compared to 3,757 sales recorded in December 2012.

The median home price of $420,000 in December 2013 is a drop from the $366,000 recorded in December 2012.

Southern California Totals:

Southern California home sales fell to a six-year low for the month of December as investor activity eased again and buyers struggled with a tight inventory of homes for sale, DataQuick said. The median price paid for a home jumped to the highest level in nearly six years, the result of demand outstripping supply, declining distress sales and a slight increase in the share of sales in mid- to high-end areas, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 18,415 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 6.5 percent from 17,283 sales in November, and down 9.2 percent from 20,274 sales in December 2012.

December’s sales gain from November is normal for the season, though it was weaker than usual. On average, sales have increased 12.4 percent between November and December since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin.

Last month’s sales were 24.1 percent below the average number of sales — 24,254 — in the month of December. Southland sales haven’t been above average for any particular month in more than seven years. December sales have ranged from a low of 13,240 in December 2007 to high of 36,865 in December 2003.

“Sales have fallen short of the same period a year earlier for three consecutive months now, and the pitifully low inventory is the main culprit,” said John Walsh, DataQuick president. “The jump in home values over the last year suggests we’ll eventually see a lot more people interested in selling their homes, which would help ease the inventory crunch. More supply would put downward pressure on prices, as would rising mortgage rates. But there are reasons to believe we’ll continue to see upward pressure on prices, too. Home building has risen but remains at relatively low levels, meaning no major boost to the overall supply of homes for sale. Meanwhile, demand is being fueled by a gradually improving economy. Also, some of the people who lost homes during the foreclosure crisis will be looking to own again.”

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the six-county region last month rose to $395,000 — the peak for 2013 and the highest for any month since the median was $408,000 in February 2008. Last month’s median was up 2.6 percent from $385,000 in November and up 22.3 percent from $323,000 in December 2012. Until last month the median had more or less moved sideways — ranging from $382,000 to $385,000 — since last June.

Foreclosure Resales

Foreclosure resales — homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months — accounted for 5.8 percent of the Southland resale market in December. That was down from 6.3 percent the prior month and was down from 14.2 percent a year earlier. Last month’s foreclosure resale rate was the lowest since it was 5.4 percent in May 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.

Short Sales:

Short sales — transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property — made up an estimated 13.2 percent of Southland resales last month. That was up slightly from 12.8 percent the prior month and down from 26.7 percent a year earlier.

Monthly Mortgage Payment:

The typical monthly mortgage payment Southland buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $1,594, up from $1,517 the month before and up from $1,139 a year earlier. Adjusted for inflation, last month’s typical payment was 33.3 percent below the typical payment in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 45.4 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.


John Morrell, managing partner of Higgs Fletcher & Mack, addresses his staff.

John Morrell, managing partner of Higgs Fletcher & Mack, addresses his staff.

Higgs Fletcher & Mack Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Law firm will donate 7,500 Hours of Community Service

Higgs Fletcher & Mack, one of the oldest and largest San Diego-based law firms, is celebrating its 75-year anniversary in 2014 with its “7,500 Hour Volunteer Challenge” campaign. The firm will donate 7,500 hours of community service along with monetary contributions to select nonprofits throughout the year.

“When reflecting on the 75 years we have been in business, it was important to have a celebration that is meaningful and representative of our company values and culture,” said John Morrell, managing partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack. “Serving San Diego in a legal capacity, but also in a philanthropic one, has been at our core since our beginning in 1939.”

More than 140 Higgs employees will be participating in community service activities throughout the year. The USO, Ronald McDonald House and Rady Children’s Hospital are among the nonprofits that will benefit from the firm’s 75-year anniversary celebration.

Gloria to Give State of the City Address

Interim San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria will present the annual State of the City address on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave.  Downtown. The address will stream live on the city’s website,, and will be seen on City TV an hour following its conclusion. Gloria is expected to highlight achievements made in recent months. Specific issues he will likely highlight for action include homelessness, the Climate Action Plan, infrastructure funding, and the minimum wage.

Of course, that agenda may change after San Diegans elect a new mayor on Feb. 11. But on the whole, the focus on infrastructure and community planning will most likely continue, no matter who wins.

Biocom CEO Appointed to Independent

Citizens’ Oversight Committee by Governor

Joseph Panetta

Joseph Panetta

Joseph Panetta, 59, of San Diego, has been appointed to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Panetta has been president and chief executive officer at Biocom since 1999. He was global leader of government and regulatory affairs at Dow Agroscience from 1998 to 1999 and vice president of government and public affairs at Mycogen Corp. from 1988 to 1998. Panetta was a regulatory affairs manager at the Pennwalt Corp. from 1985 to 1988 and a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1979 to 1984. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. The position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Panetta is a Republican.

Bay Medical Plaza Sells for $10.7 Million

Bay Medical Plaza

Bay Medical Plaza

CHULA VISTA — Bay Medical Plaza, a 36,000-square-foot medical office building at 450 Fourth Ave. in Chula Vista, has been sold for $10.7 million to a partnership between CNL Healthcare Properties and Cypress West Realty Partners LLC. The seller was Bay Medical Plaza Investment LLC.

Scripps Health and the San Diego State University Research Foundation are the building’s major tenants. A variety of other tenants serve the medical community, including private practices and laboratory research and development services. The property was 97 percent occupied at the time of the sale. Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services represented the seller of the property.

Rep. Susan Davis Urges Extension of Unemployment Benefits

Rep. Susan Davis

Rep. Susan Davis

Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) visited San Diego on Monday to discuss the impact of Congress’ decision to let long-term unemployment benefits expire last month, KPBS reports. The decision left 1.3 million people without benefits. Davis spoke with San Diegans who had been affected directly by the decision. Eugene Beronilla, 38, was employed in the health care industry until June 2012. He has been struggling since the federal checks stopped coming shortly after Christmas.

“As confidence falls, financial pressures mount, anxiety increases, and we begin to take desperate measures just to survive on a daily basis,” Beronilla said. “Those federal extensions do make a difference, particularly in the case of having stable housing or having to find another place to live.”

The congresswoman also heard from Joy Dauda. Dauda was laid off from her flight attendant job in April 2013, and has been trying to find work ever since. Davis said stories like Dauda’s and Beronilla’s reinforce her belief that Congress needs to find a way to extend the benefits.

“These are benefits for people who have been working, who have paid into the system. And we want them to be able to put all their energy into getting a job. And it’s pretty hard to do that when you’ve been cut off and you’re no longer able to even pay for transportation to get to that job,” Davis said.

The U.S. Senate is in talks currently to extend the unemployment benefits. After they reach a deal, the House of Representatives will take up the issue.

State is Near Target for Obamacare Sign-Ups

Nearly a half-million Californians enrolled in Obamacare health plans through the end of December, according to data released Monday, the U-T San Diego reports. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 498,794 Californians picked health exchange plans, which gives the state 23 percent of the nearly 2.1 million enrollments nationwide. Considering the state has about 12 percent of the nation’s population, California has been more effective than other states in enrolling residents.

The state has nearly met the lower threshold of predictions that call for 500,000 to 700,000 Californians to buy policies by March 31.

Union Bank Holds Open House at

Homework Center in New Library

Union Bank is inviting the public to an open house today at the new Union Bank Homework Center in the Downtown Library. The bank also will recruit volunteer homework coaches during the open house, which will last from 1 to 5 p.m. at the library at 330 Park Blvd. in Downtown. The program kicks off with a welcome from Library Director Deborah Barrow  and e3 Civic High Executive Director Dr. Helen Griffith, while elementary, middle and high school students and guests tour the facility and attend sessions about how to use the Homework Center (and other library resources) taught by Teen Librarian Ady Huertas.

The library seeks volunteers to serve as “coaches” in the Union Bank Homework Center to help students in grades K-12 complete their school assignments.  Volunteers will be trained and must commit to a minimum of three hours coaching service per week; a background check is required

Integrity First Financial Group Opens New Offices

Integrity First Financial Group has opened new offices in Rancho Bernardo and Danville, Calif., and has hired Lydia Rios as national sales director and to manage the offices. Rios, a banking and finance industry veteran with nearly three decades of experience, will be tasked with building her own local area team and expanding nationally. Rios will recruit, train and manage new loan officers.

Rios has held a wide variety of positions within the banking industry since entering the field in 1985 as a bank teller. She holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s level accreditation from the Mortgage Banker’s Association of America. In 2009, Rios joined the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage team as a loan officer and in six months was promoted to manager of the bank’s Rancho Bernardo branch. For five years prior to her tenure at Wells Fargo, Rios was the division sales manager for Standard Pacific Mortgage, a subsidiary of the home builder Standard Pacific Homes.

Cassidy Turley Awarded Management

Contract for 12-Building Office Portfolio

Cassidy Turley has been awarded the management contract for a 1 million-square-foot, 12-building office portfolio in Sorrento Mesa and Rancho Bernardo that was recently acquired by Starwood Capital Group, a private investment firm. It brings the total square footage of assets under Cassidy Turley management to more than 6 million square feet locally and nearly 35 million square feet in California and Arizona, the firm said. The portfolio includes four buildings in Sorrento Mesa and eight in Rancho Bernardo.

This is the biggest management assignment awarded to the Cassidy Turley Southwest Property Management Division since its founding in 2010.

SCS Engineers Promotes Chris Crosby

Chris Crosby

Chris Crosby

SCS Engineers has promoted Chris Crosby to project professional. Crosby focuses on assessment and remediation of underground storage tanks and brownfield sites out of SCS’s San Diego office. Crosby will oversee a variety of projects in the SCS Southwest division including Phase II environmental site assessments associated with commercial property transactions and redevelopment projects; planning and implementation of remedial strategies for brownfields sites; and construction remedial oversight.

His experience includes soil, groundwater, and soil vapor investigations; installation of groundwater monitoring wells; and construction and implementation of remediation systems. Crosby earned a bachelor’s degree in both environmental studies and geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MBA from National University.

Atkins to Introduce

Bill to Protect Residents

Of Assisted Living Facilities

Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins of San Diego will introduce legislation designed to ensure that residents of assisted living facilities, also called residential care facilities for the elderly, are financially protected in the event of injury or death by requiring the facilities to carry liability insurance coverage. The bill is sponsored by Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform (CARR) and jointly authored with Assemblymember Shirley Weber of San Diego.

“I was very surprised to learn that these residences entrusted with the care of our seniors are not required to have insurance that would compensate them or their families in a case of neglect or abuse,” says Atkins. “We require home child care facilities to be insured; we should have the same standard for ensuring adequate compensation for older Californians should a tragedy at an assisted living facility occur.”

This bill will be part of a comprehensive legislative package called the RCFE Reform Act of 2014.  Bills that are part of the Act are designed to address a variety of troubling failures to protect senior residents of assisted living facilities that have recently been brought to light by community activists and media reports.  Two of these activists are San Diegans whose personal family tragedies led them to take up the cause of improving safety and accountability at RCFEs.

“Liability insurance will provide protection for both residents and facility owners,” says Aaron Byzak, founder of Hazel’s Army, an advocacy organization dedicated to assisted living facility reform.

PureForge Selects Company CEO

Walter E. Frankiewicz

Walter E. Frankiewicz

POWAY — PureForge announced selection of Walter E. Frankiewicz as CEO. Frankiewicz brings more than 30 years of executive leadership, engineering, operations, finance and sales expertise in the automotive braking industry to his new role at PureForge.

Frankiewicz holds a degree from Ohio State University. He has held leadership positions at AlliedSignal Automotive (formerly Bendix Automotive), Meritor Automotive (formerly Rockwell Automotive), Bentler AutomobilTechnik where he served as president and CEO, North American Operations, Alcoa Inc. where he served as president, Alcoa Electrical and Electronics Solutions, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, where he served as president, Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC and most recently as a founding partner of ProfinityPartners, an executive consulting and partnership company.

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Voice Your Opinion

We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: